Into the darkness,
into an envelope of lacquer black cloud,
this ship slips, spinning starboard arcs
of star-sparking, primeval chaos:
a distempered soup sludge
of unresolved, unfettered emotional detritus.†
Here, this here, in the belly of Saint Paul,†
the dust of the Damascus road
under these chewed fingernails.†
Too long, Iíve been waiting
for the blind sunburst of Christ light...
it no longer matters
that a few of these followers
may yet get put to death.
Meanwhile, in the boardroom,
there is talk of sailing bravely on...
The bilge is clogged, bulging pregnant
with the eternal sweetness of stolen waters,
a catacomb of rust flakes
and rainbows of hydrocarbon.†
Slowly, slowly, I am digested
in the ulcerous belly of Saint Paul...
bailing out with pierced bucket
& flailing windmill limbs.†
Here, a rage of impotence in this coffin.†
Here, in this underworld, where choleric fevers
bring on intemperate hallucination,†
I am sinking down, as I must,
into the black waters of Dubh Uisge.
We are led bravely on,
the sails billowing in a Capricorn wind.†
We savour the faint scent of cinnamon,
of cumin, of lemon grass
& give praise to the myriad gods
who live under the oceanís skin...
Soaked in acid spindrift, I lie out flat on the deck,
dreaming of brave new worlds.†
I have seen gleaming white towers
and soft blue rivers carrying cargo boats
of smiling, sun-tamed tourists.†
I have seen a sky that would pierce your eye
with its ineffable beauty.†
I have seen a cascading kaleidoscopic circus
of tempestuous yearning.
Saint Paul is in my belly, waiting for God:
spiking these stolen waters
so that they are not so sweet.
†I remember what she said
about waiting for storms to pass.†
I remember the cold balm of her lips,
the shaky brush-strokes of her hand,
the sweet and sour acrobatic contortions
of her mind, the pink sweat of her sex.†
I remember her.†
Oh sweet Jesus,
I remember her too much!
The Captain says: here comes the big one.†
The Captain says: weíre all going down.
The Captain says: youíd better pray your kingdom will come.
Tidal waves can wash away the bravest of cities,
can make a mockery of the most earnest intent.†
The riverís tent is broken.
our faces split open:
scattered to places
we cannot map.
So thatís it, weíre all going down:†
down into the foul, rotten ocean -
this ship of fools
in the belly of Saint Paul.†
Oh Jesus, Oh Mary, Oh Mother of God:
forgive me for pissing on the angelsí wings;
forgive me for burning out
in a spiral of falling stardust flame;
forgive me for wishing up the amber ocean deep -
these waters which reduce
even the strongest of edifices to sand.
Once I was colossal:
proud, erect, perfect.†
I adorned myself
with gems and precious metals
that shone like the voice of God
in the mid-day sun.†
I imagined I was glorious, magnificent,
worthy even of my own worship.
But this far from safe passage,
my ship thrown upon the waves,
I am humbled:
humiliated by frail mortality.†
Here, this failing body is mine.†
This tensed hand,
with its red-mottled weathered skin,
is all I am.
This rope which tears my flesh,
is my god.† Without it,
I am clawing empty air, praying
that these grey mountains of stormy water
will wash away the last remnants of the day.
The angels hear nothing.†
Underneath copper cascades of Botticelli hair,
their dainty ears are plugged with sealing wax.
My penitence therefore is not worth a damn.
Angels, hear me!
My words are fools that tread through muddy fields
where you will not go.† Hear me!†
My boat is water-logged, sodden, about to go down.†
Let your golden coins, like your golden tears,
fall down from heaven.
Let them descend with me, to the lightless depths
where I shall forever lie, crucified upon the ocean floor.
Angels, hear me!
Take off your flowing gowns and rub my face
in the soft folds of your mothering pudenda.†
Let the lord of delight pull back the curtains of his disgust,
for I cannot remain hidden or chewed up by lust.†
Give me the cup of your labial lips that I may drink,
for I am wretched with my thirst.
Angels, hear me!
Bring your shining nails: pierce me with your purity;
castigate & revile me, for I am nothing, but a driftwood whore
floating on a sea of decay.
Angels, hear me!
I cry out, but the angels cannot hear me:
my prayers fall, answerless, into the echoing void.
There are angels in this dead head:
virgin warriors dancing through
dreams of sleep;
through bellied clouds,
the texture of moon-blood.††
They are skin, flesh, bone,
atomic structure: cold as forged metal,
I envy the sunlight that plays
upon their hair,
adore their untouchable presence...
but want to touch them all the same.
Imagine then, a post-coital haze,
wrapped in the tender arms of an angel:
her breasts, milk-soft
against the hard edges of my back;
the feather down of her hair
coiled in my lazy fingers;
her kisses, shaky and bursting
on the back of my neck.
In the belly of this wrecked ship I wait for salvation.†
Saint Paul lays trembling, thou-shalt-not hands upon me.†
He would heal my soul with meat-hooks
and tender instruments of torture;
and carve the scriptures into my skin.†
He only knows the benediction of fire.†
As without, so within.
Lay your brands upon me father,
for I have laughed with too many Liliths;
and now I dream only of angel quim.†
Lay your hands upon me
and take me down into the deep,
that I may succumb to eternal sleep.†
Take me down, gentle Jesus,
as a lamb to your shambles yard.†
Brace my head in a cobbled lock;
and take your steely blade,
swift and sweet,
to this petitioning flesh.
Down, down, down,
I descend into the netherworld:
beyond the cloying reach of clinical hands.†
I will not be saved by anything less than pain.†
Innanna, these diamonds are dust:
let me sing for you again.
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